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Becoming a Researcher: Stories of Self

Here is an open access Educational and Social Analysis Journal "The Morning Watch" special issue on Becoming a Researcher: Stories of Self

Here's an exert from the Introduction:

In this Special Edition: Becoming a Researcher, we foreground the self as data and recognise multiple stories of self (Arnold, 2011). Moving aside abstract, distanced, non- emotional frameworks, the contributions in this volume embrace an embodied, interconnected approach to understanding selves as researchers (Essén & Varlander, 2012) and the process of reaching current settled and unsettled destinations. Contributions link the personal with the theoretical, the individual with the universal, factual with imaginary, and word with image to reclaim the inevitability of the personal in academic lives. Papers in this collection show how researchers live their research and how, even though, many researchers “have been trained to guard against subjectivity (self-driven perspectives) and to separate self from research activities, it is an impossible task” (Ngunjiri, Hernandez, & Chang, 2010, p. 2). Scholarship is intimately tied to personal experience. Stories of liberation, loss, love, survival, trust, emergence and becoming are presented here as researchers bear witness to themselves as writers and academics (Nash, 2004). Collectively this Special Edition enacts a methodological proposition that the personal, the academy, ways of knowing, pedagogy, theory and practice are intricately bound together (Arnold, 2010; Elbaz-Luwisch, 2002; Knowles & Cole, 2008).

 Badenhorst et al, 2012. 
The ISF Postgraduate Blog was started in 2009 as a way of pooling our knowledge, experiences and resources. Any ISF PG student can contribute - please ask your buddy to ensure that you are added. Blog posts on anything PG related are welcome. Not sure if you are ready to Blog? Read this and watch this to start. 

Get Out of the Kitchen: Women in Academia

Courtesy of the amazing STEM Women Blog 

"Professor Inger Mewburn is Director of Research Training at the Australian National University. Her research focuses on student experiences, which are used to inform University practices. We asked her about gender differences in the way men and women PhD students negotiate their relationships with their supervisors. Dr. Mewburn began by acknowledging that there is a dearth of female role models in academia and those that are there have tended to assume the dominant culture that is heavily masculinized. She then made a really interesting observation: during informal academic gatherings, women students find themselves in the kitchen" 

Watch the interview here 

Twitter Resources for Post-Grads

Did you know that there are great resources for academics and post-grads on Twitter?

Not sure where to get started? Read the London School of Economics Twitter Guide for Academics & Researchers

If you are already on Twitter - have you tried these hashtags and people to follow?

Please add your own suggestions in the comments box

Remember that capitalisation matters on Twitter - for this reason some accounts/hashtags are listed twice

#ScholarSunday : On a Sunday - retweet and promote the academics/scholars that you follow and/or recommend for others to follow (similar to #FF (follow Friday) but for academics). This hashtag was started by Dr Raul Pacheco-Vega @raulpacheco

#phdchat / #PhDChat  : for sharing and peer support with other Phd'ers across the world.  There is a scheduled chat one night a week (possibly 7pm Wednesday evenings but this might have changed).

#phdforum : similar to above

#acwri  / @Acwri (Academic Writing): discussion and peer support for those interested in academic writing

@ThomsonPat : Professor in Education, Arts and Writing Research. Author of the Blog

@researchwhisperer : academic research and funding

@thesiswhisperer : Dr Inger Mewburn from ANU and author of the Thesis Whisperer Blog

@DocwritingSIG : Doctoral Writing special interest group

@Write4Research:  Prof Patrick Dunleavy

@STEMWomen : Celebrating and supporting careers of women who work in STEM

Write, Write, Write: Blog, Blog, Blog

In support of Matt's callout for more blog contributions...

Much PhD writing advice includes the central focus of writing from early in your Phd and writing on a daily basis.

Benefits of writing early and daily include:

  • produces more writing and more ideas
  • develops your writing skill (practice makes perfect)
  • removes the 'dauntingness' of starting writing your thesis (if you already write regularly then you just transition to thesis writing)
  • makes writing not a big deal. 

[Thanks to Get A Life, PhD ,  Another Word , Tomorrows Professor for this advice]

Blogging is an easy way to access early and daily writing - the Thesis Whisperer says its a 'way of doing scholarship'  (you can see many student blogs via the Thesis Whisperer Blog).

Blogging also allows you to

  • communicate your research to a lay audience
  • start expressing your thoughts in writing as a way of developing ideas 
  • testing your ideas with an audience
  • informally and easily publish your research content
  • make yourself and your research more visible (blog turns up in Google)
  • contribute to the ISF postgrad community (contributing to your research community is part of the encouraged DSP activities)
The ISF Post-Grad Blog is a great place to start and you can develop your blogging skills before contributing to other Blogs or starting your own blog.  

  • You can share anything you want via the ISF Post-Grad Blog (generic, topic-specific, research-specific). 
  • You can schedule posts to be 'live' at a specific date/time (useful if you are inspired to write many posts in one day and would prefer them to be shared across a few weeks or want to write a post to coincide with a specific event)
  • You can always add a 'disclaimer' or 'recommended citation' at the end of your blog post if you are concerned about your public ideas being 'stolen'
  • You don't have to log into blogger to create a post - you should be able to blog via email if you prefer. 
  • If you have your own blog, you are welcome to re-post or link to your blog on the ISF Blog. This is a great way for ISF'ers to appreciate your work. 
Remember, if you don't already have access to the ISF Blog for posting - just contact Matt or Nivek. 

Here are some links of benefits of blogging:

On being an Activist and a Scholar [Amory Starr]

I attended a Food Sovereignty talk last week from Sydney Ideas - one of the Speakers was Amory Starr  who describers herself as an 'alter - globalisation' scholar.

Her blog is really interesting and she has a "Guide to Graduate School" (copied below)- interesting take on straddling activist and scholarly identities / lives....

check out the new “guide to your supervisor/advisor
  1. Don’t try to read everything assigned in your classes. You risk destroying your ability and interest in reading anything at all. You will have to reread it anyway if you ever publish in the area, so rather than reading every word focus on learning the landscape and what is at stake. Write really useful briefs with heavy citations that can guide you when you return. You must protect your mind and your love of learning from the academy’s disciplinary regime of shame and intimidation — which is not only demoralizing but also depoliticizing.
  2. Learn ASAP how to read a text and summarize it accurately in one paragraph with minimal but appropriate necessary quotations (such as phrases unique to a new theory) and maximum citations (every important point in your summary, even if you don’t use a quotation, should be cited to a particular page or page range so you can find it again). Summarizing requires distinguishing between your reactionto a text and what it actually argues. This is one of the most important skills you need to get in graduate school. It makes your work both easier and more credible.  It also helps you know when can congratulate (and reward) yourself for having done one unit of reading/lit review, because you’ve got your little paragraph done. Allow yourself to write about your reactions, but do so separately, also using quotes and citations there. Being able to find some things that are wrong, contradictory, or offensive about a text is NOT the same thing as being able to summarize the argument, which is an essential task not only for producing academic work, but for being a responsible, informed intellectual. (It’s sorta like being a good listener who doesn’t constantly distort, judge, react to, or put words in the mouth of your friends in conversation.)
  3. Don’t ever try to “work all day”. It’s a big waste of time. Try to work for 2 hours every day. If you do that you will find you’re getting more done than when you sort of bounce around your office or cyberspace for 10 hours straight. As you organically become more connected with scholarly work and your work, you will slowly find yourself able to work effectively for longer periods, but this will probably take years.  Don’t push it, it’s toxic. (You’ve gone toxic if you’re totally “stressed”, never have time for friends or political meetings, are always “working”, and aren’t getting much done…  The cure is to spend 2 hours actuallyworking, then stop even if you’ve hardly gotten anything done and go to a political meeting and then beers with your friends. And again the next day do TWO hours.)
  4. Give your faculty SHORT things to read as your work is progressing. If you have developed a collective understanding with them you won’t have to do major re-writes. Another reason for handing in short pieces is that there is an indirect density relationship between submissions and feedback; ergo, the shorter the piece you give them the richer feedback you’ll get. When they have 100 pages to read, you’re not going to get feedback on writing issues, just on overall structure.  
  5. After each meeting with a member of your committee (thesis, exams, dissertation) write them a bulleted memo summarizing what you think was decided at the meeting. If they only see you or your work every 4 months, you’ll likely get an entirely different (and possibly contradictory) response from them each time, partly because they simply can’t remember the details of what happened last time (also because different aspects of your work will bring out different ideas and responses in them, because they’re intellectuals). The memo will be of great assistance to them and you in keeping track of your consensus about project development. (With the number of projects and info they are processing, there are many things they can’t remember, and don’t be surprised when things you thought you would always remember start slipping…)
  6. One of the hardest things about graduate school is that you keep having to write things like proposals, exams, and theses when you don’t really know what a proposal, exam, or thesis is. Looking at other people’s can give you a sense of form and the quality range, but the more difficult issue is trying to get a sense of the scope and intensity of what you are trying to produce. In my experience the best way to learn about this is to talk with your faculty early on and continually about your exam, proposal etc. as if you are pitching a movie, like a very quick, 5 sentence outline, mentioning the main points, arguments, and sections as if it’s a story. Hopefully they respond by saying things like “well in a proposal, it’s mostly lit review and methods and you really don’t need to put in all that high theory yet, but you will have a chapter on that in the dissertation.” (Comments like that can save you a LOT of work.) You’re looking for them to answer in a way that not only achieves the kind of agreement discussed above, but that helps you get a sense of what the hell this thing is that you’re writing.
  7. Do not assume that the faculty individually or as a whole have thought through how to actually train you for the discipline, the type of job you seek, getting tenure at the kind of institution you’ll be in or anything else. Demand specific training from them, like “How do i figure out which journal to submit a given article to?”, “How do i ‘keep up’ with journals when they’re so dumb and boring? Which ones do i read and how much of them do i read?” OR “How do i write a successful journal article when my work is very complex; i feel i can’t tell this story in 30 pages?” OR “How do i find out what kinds of things community colleges are looking for in faculty hires?” OR “What sort of things are supposed to happen in a ten minute conference presentation on a 60 page chapter from my dissertation?” They will probably be happy to help you with these things, but be aware that they are not thinking as if they are responsible for actually TRAINING you. (Overseeing you writing a passable dissertation is not the same thing as training you.)  Don’t avoid embarrassing or revealing questions like this in hope of impressing them, it’s not worth it. In the long run, they’ll like you because of what you pull off in your dissertation, not because of how professionalized you acted as a student. And if you don’t get this training because of your pride you’ll wish you had.
  8. Tell your faculty what you need from them: deadlines, gentleness, mentorship, advocacy, encouragement, gratuitous advice, unyielding demands… Otherwise they will likely be excessively hands-off out of respect for you as an independent person.
  1. Academic journal articles are absurd, arcane, boring, poorly written, and have little relation to anything you care about in the world. Academic conferences are essentially a manifestation of the poverty industry. These events are so hypocritical that any self-respecting radical will never go anywhere near them. HOWEVER you can have a secure job for life with more political freedom than any other if you can manage to get 6 journal articles published and make a few conference presentations. If you can publish 10 journal articles or so you can probably get to live somewhere interesting. This is actually very little work with a lot of payoff. THEREFORE, while in graduate school learn how to write journal articles. They are deceiving monsters. Most are so boring that it seems an obvious task, however when it comes time to translating your work into one of these short, dull pieces, you will find it surprisingly difficult. GET HELP learning the formula for writing them. Your faculty must teach you this.
  2. Do NOT write a book. Despite being a significant and seemingly meaningful activity (unlike writing journal articles), books only count about 2 articles toward tenure so it’s not worth the effort. And your political allies won’t have time to read them. Spend your political writing time doing short pieces for magazines and websites that people actually read. 
  3. While in school do political work with undergraduates. Faculty and graduate students are generally too stressed out about their careers to be reliable political allies. Undergraduates, on the other hand, are less encumbered and more willing to be confrontational and hopeful. If you don’t make time to be an activist while in graduate school you will not like who you become. Your graduate department is not a good vehicle for activism, so don’t be depressed or affected by what doesn’t go on there politically.Recommended reading: Chris Dixon and Alexis Shotwell, “Leveraging the Academy: Suggestions for Radical Grad Students and Radicals Considering Grad School” Monthly Review 12.1.07
  4. After surviving the indignities of graduate school, you will gain a little bit of status, prestige, and financial security as faculty. However your academic work will continue to be demoralizing. You feel that you must master and keep up with an impossible amount of material. You will never know enough and you will live in fear of getting caught not knowing something that you should. While you will get positive feedback from students, most of your colleagues will appreciate your successes and failures only insofar as they provide useful cannon fodder for their own careers and egos. You will find only sporadic meaning and fulfillment in this work. You may have very few or no colleagues with whom you have satisfying intellectual relationships. Therefore, you must DESIGN a life with political activity and meaning. The academy WILL NOT meet your political (or social) needs on its own. You will have to make a political path outside/beyond the academy. See your academic life as one part of an overall plan for your political, intellectual, community, and life-meaning development. This is a big task. Live your life as a graduate student building political connections, activist skills, community involvements, and popular pedagogy so that in the next phase of your life you will already know how to connect with communities and do political work outside of the academy as a public intellectual, a community member, a citizen in service to social justice organizations, a political activist, etc…
  5. Marry/commit to someone you meet during graduate school. Choose someone with a more marketable and portable skill than a phd. If you must date a graduate student (or have a hard time meeting other people), try to find someone doing a professional degree or a terminal masters so that they will have more job flexibility and mobility than you. Do NOT count on there being a lively singles scene where you get a job. Realize that most non-academic people your age will be married with infants by the time you finish your phd. (If there’s no one to play with, being single is not quite as fun…) A partner can also protect you from total dependence on the professorial job market.
  6. Maintain (or learn, if necessary) some popular social activities, like softball, fantasy football, or pool so that you will have something in common with your fellow citizens when you graduate. (Note: Film crit does NOT count.)
  7. Learn a backup skill so that you are not 100% dependent on finding a tenure track job somewhere that you want tal-poo live. Accounting, grantwriting, landscape design, and anything in the construction trades (electrical, plumbing, carpentry, tile) are excellent choices because they are highly portable, decently paying, and potentially independent livelihoods which could give you more freedom to make decisions about your life as well as get you through if you end up as a temp lecturer.
  8. Read Disciplined Minds: A Critical Look at Salaried Professionals and the Soul-Battering System that Shapes their Lives (2000: Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham) by Jeff Schmidt, a physicist and former editor for Physics Today. Or read my summary.
  9. Know that radicalism is not necessarily activist. If you accept this, it will save you a lot of time and energy wondering why so many scholars seem to be incredible hypocrites.
  10. Activists experience the intellectual-political work of scholarship as part of the struggle. But I’ve come to understand the academy as a place where I do some outreach and networking, and sometimes try to transform the institutions to be more liberatory, but for the most part my academic job is not part of THE struggle. This job is a way to support me and the work I want to do. I’m recognizing that playing nice with people I don’t actually respect is a way to get that support. If I network and be nice then my expertise may get recognized and I could get publications, invitations, jobs, etc. that take care of the material needs so i can be more free to do what i really want to do. Another need is to get recognition for the work I do. Taking the war to work, to conferences, to textual debates means that I’m undermining the basis of security and witness which would enable me to fight the real struggle. I’m not saying to hold back on the political values of the work, just that it doesn’t hurt to be nice to people, even if they’re liberals or the kind of radicals who never do anything.
  11. You might also want to read my short chapter in the book, Academic Repression. 

Lien Environmental Fellowship- Call for Proposals

The Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute Community Development (NEWRIComm) is inviting applicants from  universities, research organisations and government agencies for the Lien Environmental Fellowship (LEF) Programme award. The LEF Programme aims to enable successful candidates to develop and improve water, sanitation, and renewable energy (waste-to-energy) for developing communities in Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia.

First launched in 2010, the programme is currently supporting six projects in five countries  India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. The LEF programme is supported by the Lien Foundation ( and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU). The Programme places strong emphasis on implementation of technologies, coupled with well-grounded research and community capacity building. The ideal outcome would see implementation follow education so that benefits can accrue beyond the Fellowship recipients and towards the target communities.

NEWRIComm is a member of the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI) (, which is ranked among the world's top 9 notable water research organisations. Since its inception in 2008, NEWRI has translated its interdisciplinary research outcomes into industry and community development relevance.
Successful recipients shall stay at NEWRI for up to six months to better conceptualise their proposals with NEWRI mentor(s), discuss prototyping issues and detailing implementation plans and costs with the mentor(s) and consultants. Recipients may also audit classes, attend seminars and join research discussion groups. This is intended to help the recipient's future efforts in education and research upon returning home.
The key outcome of the Fellowship Phase shall be the LEF Implementation Proposal. This shall be presented to the NEWRI assessment panel for evaluation. The Implementation Award shall then be awarded to projects deemed to merit further support.
Successful recipients can expect the following financial support during the Fellowship Phase:
 ·   Up to two return economy airfares from the recipient's country to Singapore;
    • ​A monthly allowance of S$2,500 for the duration of the recipient’s stay at NEWRI. Whenever the fellowship phase is carried out at Fellow's home institution, the allowance to be discussed shall be pro-rated.
  • Accommodation shall be provided (on campus whenever possible);
  • Laboratory and prototyping costs.

For more information on the LEF Programme, please refer to the attachment. Interested applicants are required to submit aProject Brief using the template provided in Annex I of attachment and their CV.
Do note that at this stage, you are not required to cost the project if it is implemented.
Please email your proposals and all enquiries to us at
The deadline for submission of the Project Brief is 15 December 2014, (12:00, GMT + 08:00, Singapore time)
The anticipated start date for successful recipients is during the month of August 2015.

Sustainability Science Fellowships at Harvard

(Can someone re-post to the ISF Facebook page pls?)
Sustainability Science Fellowships at Harvard University
Doctoral, Post-doctoral, and Mid-career Fellowships
Due date for applications: February 2, 2015

The Sustainability Science Program at Harvard University invites applications for resident fellowships in sustainability science for the academic year beginning in September 2015This year’s competition is focused on three thematic areas related to energy and sustainabilityWe are seeking applications focusing on: 1) decarbonizing energy systems in the European Union; 2) designing, developing, and/or implementing sustainable energy technologies and policies in China; and 3) the impacts of fossil fuel subsidies on economic, environmental, and health indicators and the actions that can be taken to reduce them. The fellowship competition is open to advanced doctoral and post-doctoral students, and to mid-career professionals engaged in research or practice to facilitate the design, implementation, and evaluation of effective interventions that promote sustainable development.  The thematic areas are led by Professors Henry Lee and Joseph AldyThe Program is also open, however, to strong proposals in any area of sustainability science.  In addition to general funds available to support this fellowship offering, special funding for the Giorgio Ruffolo Fellowships in Sustainability Science is available to support citizens of Italy, China, or developing countries who are therefore especially encouraged to apply. For more information on the fellowships application process see are due February 2, 2015 and decisions will be announced in March 2014.

Sustainable Energy and the European Union
Faculty leader: 
Henry LeeJassim M. Jaidah Director, Environment and Natural Resources Program
Faculty co-leaders: 
Laura Diaz AnadonWilliam Clark
This thematic area explores policies that will aid in decarbonizing the energy in the EU in view of the 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy Policy which will be decided on in October 2014. The EU is considering more ambitious targets for renewable energy options, increased energy efficiency goals for reducing greenhouse gases by 2030. Fellows will be expected work on the sustainability of the supply chain of renewable energies in the EU, from inception to commercialization. The overall renewable energy life-cycle can be considered in its entirety or the work can focus on a specific stage of the life-cycle. The program is particularly interested in analyzing the renewable energy sustainability in EU economies that have traditionally lagged behind other member states in terms of increasing the use of renewable energy technologies and the challenges and opportunities to expand deployment and use of those technologies.

Sustainable Development of the Energy Sector in China: Challenges and Options
Faculty leader: Henry LeeJassim M. Jaidah Director, Environment and Natural Resources Program
Faculty co-leaders: Laura Diaz AnadonVenkatesh Narayanamurti
This thematic area addresses the environmental implications of energy policies in China and explores how China can manage these implications. Fellows work to identify and promote policies that will contribute to the thoughtful use of China's natural resources (e.g., water, air, land) and/or the adoption of cleaner and less carbon-intensive industrial and energy technologies. Research areas include, but are not limited to: analyzing the impact of energy and industrial policies on water scarcity and air pollution; assessing polices to promote a low-carbon energy portfolio and an analysis of options to improve the efficient use of energy and greater penetration of alternative energy sources.

Grammarly: Improve your writing, check for plagiarism

UTS library is currently trialling the use of Grammarly

You need the access code from the UTS website

Its a great resource for checking your English language use and also plagiarism in your writings. Only fault I found was that it can only review about 3500 words at a time (it says up to 20 pages but this didn't work for me).

It allows you to download a PDF of its report on your writing and also will take you through each 'correction' step by step.

Its currently only available till October.

So if you can't afford an external editor and want some feedback on your writing - I suggest trying it out.